Category: Blog (page 3 of 7)

Post to WordPress on iOS – Workflow Wednesday

If you blog on iOS, sometimes you want to send a quick post to your WordPress site as soon as possible. The WordPress app on iOS has come a long way in recent years, but when you are just sending a quick post dealing with the app can be cumbersome. This is where my workflow comes in.

What it is

This workflow is quite simple on the surface. However, thanks to Workflow’s integration with WordPress, you can handle even the most advanced options on every post you share. Things like the slug, post format, tags, excerpt, etc. are all options with this workflow.

What it Does

The Workflow starts by asking you the title of the post, which is then saved for later use as a variable.

After that it asks if you have a featured image for the post. This is an option of yes or no. If you say yes, it then opens up the Photos app to select the photo you wish to be the featured image.

Finally comes the fun part. Posting a blog post on WordPress can be fairly easy, but this workflow also allows you to handle the minutia if you so choose.

Once you connect your WordPress site to Workflow you’re ready to start blogging your heart out!

Tweaks You Can Make

I have set this workflow to only ask for the categories and tags, but you can edit this workflow to ask you for more information if you want to have more control in each post you make. Simple go to the section you want to integrate with your workflow and tap the “Ask When Run” option. This will now ask you for an input every time you run the workflow.

I have also made this workflow with Rich Text in mind, if you prefer to write in Markdown you can add an action to convert rich text to Markdown if you would like. Everything I write is in Markdown, but I wanted to leave the option to you.

Also, if you prefer to select images in your iCloud or Dropbox folder instead of Photos, simple replace that action with a “Get File” action within Workflow.

You can download the workflow here. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me.

The 9 Things I Learned Going iPad Only

Going “iPad only” wasn’t a goal for me until recently. Before then it was just something I felt more comfortable using over a Mac. Now that I have made this blog it got me thinking about all the things I learned by making my iPad my main device. These are some of them.

It’s Easier Than You Think

When I first set out to make my iPad Air 2 my main computer back in college it seemed too daunting and scary. A lot of these questions came at me when I left for class without my Mac, knowing that I only had this tablet to handle all of my work.

How will I handle my files? How can I make sure I keep things on task? What about my trackpad?!

By the end of the day, though, I realized that there wasn’t anything that really got in my way of my work. Things like taking notes, writing papers, or even researching for other assignments came easy. This small piece of glass seemed to handle everything I threw at it.

Something about working with this device made sense to me. This was the beginning of something magical for me.

Like many things in life, I decided to disregard my reservations about trying something new. I just dove in head first into the sea of the unknown, only to come out the other side a more experienced person. Going iPad only seemed like a silly idea, but in practice it allowed me to do my work freely and with more joy.

Less is More

Limitation is often seen as a negative thing, but for me having that limiter on myself makes my life a lot easier. It’s not about making decisions on how I do my work, but more on the work itself.

For instance, recording a podcast on an iPad isn’t impossible, but it does require a lot of effort and some sacrifice. I wrote about podcasting on iOS before, but to reiterate I have to use both my iPhone and my iPad to record a podcast successfully. I did this because even though it isn’t a pretty solution, I can still do it with just an iPad and my iPhone. I was able to take a theory and turn it into a proof. I also did this because I really wanted to go iPad only, even if it meant function over form.

There are some things you can’t do on iOS that you can on a Mac or PC; but they are so seldom that I often don’t need to worry about it on a day to day use. Plus, with limitation comes innovation, and I have stripped down a lot of the things in my workflow because of iOS. I also have learned a lot from it as well.

You Learn a Lot About iOS

If I only used my iPad when I was on the go instead of all the time, there are a lot of things I wouldn’t know I could do with an iPad. I would have had the instinctual reaction to open up my MacBook Air instead of trying to find a solution with the tools I already had in front of me.

One of the big ones for me is automation and using the app Workflow. There are a number of things I never would think I could do on an iPad that Workflow allows me to do with ease. For instance, converting rich text into Markdown has been a hassle for me for years. That is until Workflow built a simple tool to take that text and convert it to a fully functional Markdown.

To go even deeper with this, I have also learned how to bend and contort many types of media to the specific types I need them in. It’s all thanks to the brilliant minds behind Workflow and knowing what I needed to make these alterations happen without a hitch.

The iPad Can Be a Workhorse

Working on my iPad has been my preferred device ever since I realized how little there is I can’t do with this device. My work can be done on an iPad about 90% of the time no problem. The other 10% is where things get tricky. Doing something like editing a podcast, making graphics for the website becomes problematic on any iOS device.

This isn’t to say I can’t do those things on iOS, but because I am a creature of habit I still am apprehensive to migrate it over to the iPad. I am slowly moving towards Ferrite for podcast editing and recording, as well as Pixelmator for photo editing. The only problem I still am yet to tackle is editing the website. I still need to use a Mac for it, albeit on a seldom basis.

But to set aside the 10% I don’t use with my iPad, the fact that this machine has gone from a giant iPhone into a full-fledged Mac replacement is astonishing to me. I still find it a shock to my system when I think about all the things I need to do that get done solely on my iPad.

iOS is the OS for Me.

I have been an Apple use for years, ever since I got my iPhone 4s I made the switch from Android and PC to iOS and macOS. I have owned a Mac longer than I owned any iOS device.

With that said, macOS has slowly drifted away from me like Wilson in the movie Cast Away. Instead of screaming for the Mac to come back to me, however, I have found solace in iOS.

To me, iOS is equally lightweight in robust tasks I barely do, and more flexible with the minimal tasks I do. I can write and blog without having several apps open, yet I can edit a podcast if I so choose.

I mentioned already how working with my hands is a satisfying thing, but it isn’t just that I control it with touch. Working on the iPad, for me, has changed the way I look at computers all together.

The Mac was a window into the world, the iPad is more a window into the things important to me.

I am not here to badmouth the Mac, but to say that the Mac is a good alternative to an iPad would be doing the iPad a disservice. I would actually counter it with the iPad being a good alternative to the Mac. At least for me.

Portability Becomes More Important

Until I started to use my iPad, I used to think that my 13” 2015 MacBook Air was the epitome of portable. Now, in the seldom times I need to open the Macbook, it seems like a giant computer. It makes my shoulders hurt just thinking about lugging it around town with me as I work from coffee shops and local libraries.

The iPad is perfect for someone who is on the go and working from place to place. It offers keyboard accessability, but it isn’t required to work with it. the fact that you don’t need to have a surface to hold it is something you don’t appreciate until you are in that position.

If I could explain this feeling, it is like having a piece of paper to write with. But when you finally need to write on that sheet of paper, you then need to find a surface flat enough to write on. Now imagine the iPad is a proverbial clipboard, allowing you to write anywhere you go as you wander the area. That is the relief and ease I am talking about with the iPad.

The iPad Really Can Replace Your Other Computers

Do you remember those “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” commercials? I think back on those a lot. Mainly as a question of what would Apple be comparing these days with those two actors? For me it would be an iPad and everything else.

“I’m an iPad, and I’m everything else,” could start the commercial. Then Apple could talk about how the Apple Pencil is the most efficient stylus on the market. Or how the iPad allows your to work on the best hardware Apple has to offer with the best OS as well. The comparisons are endless.

It Is Much More Enjoyable

Speaking of joy, working on an iPad can be a lot of fun. Something about working on a device with my hands is just so satisfying. I still use the iPad with a keyboard for the most part. But at times where I need to use Drag and Drop or editing photos with Pixelmator, I notice how much more I enjoy handling the mundane. Using my hands to physically move and edit things over a mouse or trackpad is just nice compared to a more “traditional” computer.

Tapping and sliding my fingers on the glass is a lot like ice skating. The flow in which I feel in my hands only validates that feeling more. I feel like I am soaring through my work much more efficiently and elegantly than I would on any other device.

On top of that, when I got the iPad Pro I bought the Apple Pencil. It’s still one of my favorite tools Apple has made. Writing notes down on a pen and paper is still satisfying, but being able to do it on my iPad still feels like the future. the latency is next to nothing, and the feeling you get writing on the glass screen is incomparable.

I love opening up GoodNotes 4 and jotting down ideas for Tablet Habit and having them saved digitally. Unlike a notebook, if I lost my iPad tomorrow I would still have all of my notes saved on the cloud for safekeeping.

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

All of the people I know who are iPad only (or even iPad first) have taken the limitations of iOS in stride. Some, like me, use the limitations as a means of focus. Others, like Federico Viticci over at MacStories, have found ways to bypass those limitations. He creates Workflows, automation, and even writing his own code to make iOS work for him. In both cases pro users of the iPad will hit some roadblocks, but they take that as a challenge rather than a disadvantage.

So much of what I do can be done without many bumps in the road. But when I do get to an area where there are some road blocks, I take it as a chance to learn more about the systems in which I do my work. I want to find ways to make my own detours towards my destination.

Something about iOS, and those who use it as their main OS, makes you want to push forward and raise the bar just a little higher each and every day. I am sure there are other communities like us, but for me this feels like home.

What’s Next

The iPad is a tremendous machine, and a testament that Apple continually innovates their products years after it comes out. There is very little I have to say negatively about the iPad, but in the future I hope Apple keeps their momentum with the iPad going. A version of this device has been out over 8 years now and I hope in another 8 years I am as satisfied and pleasantly surprised as I am today.

For now, the iPad will continue to be the device I take with me everywhere I go. Whether it is to catch up on some news, or to write an ebook, the iPad will be my computer of choice.

If you want to make the switch and go iPad only, sign up to get my free ebook coming out at the end of April. It will show you the 20 apps to get productive on the iPad, and how you can make the transition from Mac and PC over to iOS.

Apple Adds How-To Videos for iPad

Apple recently put together a beautiful space for iPad users to learn more about what you can do with the tablet. It includes several videos of both simple and pro features you can use on an iPad.

All of the videos are great, but what really surprised me was the fact that 3rd party apps like GoodNotes 4 and Pixelmator are getting some love on these videos. I am happy to see Apple showing off some of the best apps offered for the iPad and I hope this continues going forward.

Apple’s style in these short videos are also probably some of my favorite they have done in years. I enjoy the simplicity, yet rich personality, they put in these.

There are some things I wish they put in here like Workflow and more writing tools, but I guess that is where I can come in and help more.

So if you want to spend 10 minutes and watch all of these to either learn some new stuff or just refresh yourself on some things you can do on an iPad I highly recommend it.

Get App Icon – Workflow Wednesday

This is a new weekly segment I am doing called Workflow Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will be sharing workflows I have either made myself or found elsewhere that is worth sharing with you. If you haven’t tried out Workflow yet I highly suggest downloading it (it’s free).

What The Workflow Is

This week is how to get the app icons from an App Store URL. Meaning that you can share a link from the App Store and then run a workflow that will get the image of the app icon, and mask it to look like a home screen version of it. This is great if you are writing a blog post or want to use an app icon of something to share in a document or website.

How it Works

The masking part of this is a new addition to the latest Workflow update and it’s probably my favorite thing about Workflow image manipulation as of right now. It makes things very easy to conform image to match the style of app icons. You can also use the mask for other things like a rounded rectangle, an ellipse, or even your own custom image. I have not tested the custom image just yet but according to MacStories it can be done with some trial and error.

in my early tests with this feature, I had fun using random images from my photo library as masks and understanding how Workflow treated their brightness as a custom alpha mask. According to the app’s documentation, darker colors in the alpha mask become transparent and lighter colors remain opaque; the mask is also resized to match the dimensions of the source image if necessary.

How to Use It

Once you download the workflow it is simple to run it and save the image for later use.

Simply open the App Store and find the app you want to save the icon for and tap “Share App.”

From there tap the “Run Workflow” option in the share sheet. If you don’t see it you may need to check and see if you have it enabled. To do that scroll all the way to the right on the bottom section and tap “More” and make sure the Run Workflow option it switched on.

Finally, select the App Icon Workflow you just installed. For you it may be more towards the bottom depending how many workflows you have that are action extensions.

This workflow came in handy for me when I was working on getting the images for a new ebook I am working on. I took the apps I wanted to cover in this ebook and ran this workflow to make the app icons and then save them in a folder on my iCloud for later use in Pages.

All in all this may be a simple workflow but it has been getting a lot of mileage from me and I think if you ever want to grab an app icon this will do the job for you.

You can download the workflow here if you would like it.

If you have any requests for workflows for me to build feel free to contact me and let me know!

Why I Use Time Blocking to Be Productive

If you are like me, you probably only think of a calendar app for appointments and time sensitive events happening in your life. You need to keep those events in a safe place so that they remind you of when, and where, you need to be. Which is all fine and good but what about that empty space? What do you do when you have nothing scheduled? For me, I decided to utilize my calendar more and fill up that white space. Some call it hyper-scheduling, other call it time boxing, but I call it time blocking.
Whatever you call it, it basically means that I plan everything in my day within my calendar app. If I have plans to write, it goes in the calendar. If I plan to edit a podcast, it goes in the calendar. If I want to work on more administrative work, it goes in the calendar.

But before I explain how, I think knowing why will help understand what brought this change.

Why Time Blocking?

The reason I started to do this is because I was frustrated with task managers for iOS. I wanted to go about task management from a completely different angle than I had been. My issues with task managers has boiled down to having a lot of things in one place, and then not knowing what to do with it. I know about the weekly review process Getting Things Done (GTD) has in place, and I have tried that. I just never seem to stick with it. I think my brain isn’t wired for a GTD-style task management system, which is a hard pill to swallow because I have been trying to use GTD for years with little to no success. It also doesn’t help when I have a lot on my plate in many aspects of my life.

I wear a lot of different hats. I write for Tablet Habit and do a weekly newsletter. I am a freelance podcast editor, I co-host two podcasts, and I also have a day job. Those are a lot of different things I handle on a regular basis, and I needed to figure out how to maintain and advance my goals for each. Enter Time Blocking.

How I Got Started Time Blocking

The first thing I needed to do with time blocking was to figure out what I need to get done each week in order to maintain the different areas of my life. So I got a pen and paper and started to write down everything I needed to get done each week and what area of my life that falls in to.

I had an idea of what I had to do it was now a matter of when. So I took the time sensitive stuff first and made all-day events for when I am doing things like posting podcast episodes and blog posts. They are things that need to be done that day, but not at a specific time. It also helps me keep track of these things because all day events are at the top no matter what. Which makes it super easy to find when I am skimming my upcoming week.

From there I worked backwards to determine when the drafts of my posts are “due” and when to have each episode of the podcast edited. Christopher Lawley edits A Slab of Glass so thankfully I just need to plan for each episode and record them. Getting Caught Up, however, requires me to edit each episode.

My plan is to have each episode editing 3 days prior to posting day. Since the show is a fortnightly show it isn’t too hard to manage that schedule. I gave myself 3 days before the release of each episode so I can work on things like show notes, chapters, and all the other things that goes into a podcast after it is cut. So far, it seems to be working.

Once I had an idea of where to put the time-sensitive stuff, I now had to put the rest in. My thought process for this was to theme each day of the week. For instance, I could have my Mondays be when my first draft of my big post a week is due. Or have Thursdays be when I outline the weekly small post. Then it isn’t a matter of me checking the calendar daily, instead I just need to know what day of the week it is and know what it is I need to get done.

I shared this in my newsletter, and I plan to write more about it there, but after I started putting events in my calendar I realized that I could be doing this way more efficiently on my Mac. By that I mean that handling events in a calendar and making sure every detail in it is correct can be tedious. It is doubly so when you then want to input custom repeating structures in it. So I decided to put the iPad down and crack open my MacBook Air to get this done.

I didn’t like the idea of needing to use a Mac to get this done. It’s something I hate to admit, but sometimes the iPad falls short, and this is one of those times.

Once I gathered my themes for each day it was a simple process of making events to match the theme, and then having them repeat where necessary. From there it is a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing.

I will say that I add things in my calendar from time to time and move my events for the day around if need be. This is done on iOS with Readle’s Calendars 5 app. I recently switched to this app from Fantastical 2 because it offered a much nicer weekly view.

This app, unlike Fantastical, doesn’t emphasize on the agenda style of planning as much. In fact, it resembled more of a calendar app you would find on Apple’s stock calendar app, but it offered natural language input which is one of the reasons I loved Fantastical. I am not sure how long I will stick with this, but I will say that I feel that Calendars 5 handles the fluidity of my system very easily once it is in place.

Conclusion

With this system in place there are a few things about this system that makes me nervous.

The first thing being that if I don’t stick with this and I miss something due to some unforeseen reason that I will just assume that my entire day will be shot now. A cartoon I recently discovered sums this up beautifully.

My second concern is that I will not know what to do when a new idea or task has to be done will go. For now I think the answer to this is going to be using either my current task manager OmniFocus 2 or use Apple’s Reminders app as it integrates within Calendars 5 natively.

There is going to be some testing and experimentation with this until I find a solution I am happy with. Until then though, you can follow along on my weekly newsletter. So if you are interested to keep up with this you can do so there. I also plan to answer any questions you may have about this or anything iPad/iOS related in the newsletter as well. To ask a question just fill out the form here.

Apple Education Event Wrap Up

While I wasn’t able to go to the Apple Event in person, a lot of other great people were. I decided to put together a wrap-up from the live-tweets from those that were there for the release of a new iPad. There is also some notes I put in during the live event as well. Continue reading

How To Blog on an iPad

When blogging on Tablet Habit I have gotten the question of how I do it all from my iPad. It is a fairly simple process, but it can be hard to build from scratch, so I want to break it down here.
Before I get into it though, I want to make a quick note. I write in Markdown. If you write in Markdown this should be pretty easy to follow along. If you don’t know Markdown, you can find out more from the creator of it, John Gruber, on his site Daring Fireball.

Also, this is primarily for anyone using WordPress as their blogging platform. That is the service I use as well as a large portion of other websites on the internet. It is a free, open-source platform and is absolutely worthy of the praise it has received over the years. I will happily help those who use other platforms like Squarespace if they would like. Information on how to contact me is at the bottom of this post.

With that out of the way, I am basically going to format this as a step-by-step process of planning, writing, and posting on a WordPress blog.

Brainstorming

So the first thing is to brainstorm your article. You can do this in a Markdown app you will eventually write this in, or use a mind mapping tool like iThoughts and MindNode. You can even use a pen and paper. The only requirement for this is to get everything out of your head and onto a page or screen. Emptying your brain is key to allow for more mental RAM when actually writing the article. Don’t be afraid to dump anything and everything down, even if it has nothing to do with the project at hand.

Forget to take the trash out? Write it down at the bottom of a page or note on your iPad. Just get it out of your head and write it down. The less you have swirling in your mind the less distractions you will have when actually doing the work.

From there, clean out the things not about the blog post and put them elsewhere, like a task manager or even a different sheet of paper, you can deal with it later. Really focus your outline and/or mind map to one specific goal at a time, in this case it is the blog post.

Writing

Once you know the topic and have some kind of idea what you want to say, it is time to write it into a post. Open your text editor of choice and start using that outline you wrote as a basis of what you want to say.

Side-Note: If you want some good Markdown text editing apps I highly recommend Ulysses, Byword, iA Writer, or Editorial. There are a ton of posts elsewhere that will get in the weeds on Markdown apps so you’ll be able to find one that is right for you in no time. Anyway, back to the writing portion of things.

One thing I like to do is focus on one part at a time. This can be the introduction, conclusion, item 1 of 5 if you are posting a top 5 style post, or so on. For me, I like to have the introduction and conclusion done first. It helps me know what I want to have as the “meat and potatoes” of the post. Bookending the main points I want to make allows me to work with the constraints I put on myself. If that doesn’t work for you try something else out.

There really is no wrong way of writing, but I do have one piece of advice for anyone wanting to do anything on the internet: Really take your time and make something worthwhile here. Hang your hat on your work.

So get things right instead of just getting it done. Once it is done and you want to share it with the world, you have to know what to do with those words you’ve written to get on your website.

Exporting and Posting online

After writing the article, comes exporting it to WordPress.

There are a number of ways to do this but if you are using an app that has integration with WordPress you are halfway there. Ulysses and Byword both have this built in. From within the app with integration you can actually send your post straight to the WordPress website. Just login to your website and in the app there is an option to publish (if you need help finding it let me know what app you are using and I’ll happily help you out).

Alternatively, if the app you want to use doesn’t have built in WordPress integration you can still post to your blog. You just have to use the app Workflow. You will need to convert your Markdown text into rich text. Here is a quick and easy Workflow you can use to accomplish this. It converts the Markdown text into rich text and then sends it to WordPress. Upon first use you will need to sign in to WordPress so make sure you have that information at the ready. But after that initial setup you are set to post away!

If you are using an app that is already rich text (Notes, Microsoft Word, etc.) then you can delete the conversion block in the workflow and just have it take the text and make a post on WordPress directly, or you can download this Workflow I made.

From there you can go to your WordPress post either in Safari or the WordPress app and you can edit the post, add a featured image, change the SEO or meta data, and then post it.

Uploading Images to WordPress

There is one more thing I wanted to share with you that helped me a ton. It is related to images. Uploading images to WordPress from an iPad can be a royal pain if you let it. I created a workflow that allows you to upload an image from Photos right to WordPress and then copy the link of that image so you can paste it into your Markdown text editor. It comes in handy especially if you write in Markdown and want to share that image within world. You can download that workflow here.

PLEASE NOTE: you will need to change the domain from tablethabit.com to whatever your domain is. Otherwise your links won’t be right. Also, this only works if you have a custom website as the link it creates is based on a custom domain. If anyone knows a way to make this work with a WordPress.com website I would love to know!

Congratulations! You just posted your blog using nothing but your iPad!

If you have any thoughts or ideas on how to improve this feel free to let me know on Twitter or get in contact with me.

How To Annotate Screenshots on iOS 11

When you want to share your screen on iOS it has become second nature to just take a screenshot and send it to the person you want to share it with, usually without any editing. This can be useful, but an even better solution is to add things like text, arrows, handwritten words, etc. to that screenshot. It can give whoever is getting that image that little extra reference to help then understand what you are sending.
A great example of this is when a family member needs help with a setting in iOS or has a technical support question. A simple screenshot that may help, but a screenshot with an arrow or an explanation on what to do can save you a ton of time (and headaches).

With iOS 11 this has never been more accessible and easy to use.

Annotate On iPad

To start, you can take a screenshot by pressing the Home Button and the power button at the same time. The only outlier with this is the iPhone X as it does not have a Home Button. To do this you simple press the side button and the volume up button simultaneously.

There is also a way you can take a screenshot with a keyboard attached to your iOS device. If you are a Mac user you probably know the shortcut. You can use pres SHIFT+ ⌘ (cmd)+3 to take a screenshot. You can also take a screenshot and immediately get into the annotation with the keyboard shortcut SHIFT+⌘(cmd)+4. Both are staple keyboard shortcuts that works in any app you are using. So pick what ever method you want to get the screenshot(s) as you see fit. After that is where the real fun begins.

Once you get that screenshot, a small photo of the screenshot shows up on the bottom left corner of your screen. If you take multiple screenshots, they stack on top of each other to indicate that you have multiple screenshots.

From there you can either tap on the screenshot(s) and the built in iOS annotation will come up with a plethora of options at your disposal. You can crop the image, write on it to create arrows or hand write some stuff explaining things.

Alternatively, if you decide you don’t need to annotate or edit the image you can press and hold on the screenshot on the bottom left and the Share Sheet will pop up to send wherever you like.

One great example of what an annotate image can provide is a screenshot I recently got was from my co-host of A Slab of Glass, Christopher Lawley, who shared his thoughts not the redesign of Tablet Habit.

He pointed out the two things he thought needed changing on the site (he was totally right and I have since changed the menu and image like he recommended).

This is the power of screenshots and specifically annotating them.

Along with the crop tool, pen, pencil, and highlighter options you get in the built in iOS editor you also have this lasso tool, which is underrated if you ask me. With this you can select any and all added markings on the image and move them around as you see fit. Below is a quick video of what I am talking about.

So these are the tools you get with the built in annotation, but what if you want to do more advanced stuff with your screenshots? This is where 3rd party apps come in.

3rd Party Apps for Annotation

One app I love to use for annotating images for Tablet Habit is Annotable. It is a 3rd party app that allows you to do some pretty amazing things. I personally love the spotlight feature where everything you select is at the foreground while the rest of the unselected areas of the screenshot are dimmed to showcase the selected areas. It is great to point people where to look in a way that is appeasing to the the eyes.

Spotlight Feature with Annotable

Spotlight Feature with Annotable

If you want to learn more about Annotable and other apps that are great additions for annotation check out The Sweet Setup’s article and pick the right app for you.
So if you find yourself wanting to share your screen with someone, maybe a few seconds of editing a screenshot can help.

If you think I missed something about this or want to give any advice you have about annotating screenshots on iOS feel free to leave a comment below or get in contact with me.

Announcement: A Slab of Glass coming out 3/18

I am extremely excited to announce a new podcast I am doing with Christopher Lawley called A Slab of Glass. It is a podcast all about the iPad where Christopher and I will be talking about how we use our iPads and how others can make their iPad a main device.
We talk about a specific topic each episode. Things like our Home Screen Setup, our quest to find the perfect keyboard for the iPad, and how we handle storage in the cloud for our iPads.

The first episode comes out March 18th and episodes 2 and 3 will be out later that week. After that we will be posting every other Friday. so go to aSlabOfGlass.com and subscribe now!

If you still need convincing here is our trailer for the podcast. Feel free to share it out with anyone you think will be interested.

Benuo iPad Case 10.5” Review

Cases for an iPad are a dime a dozen. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of iPad cases on the market. Some are great, some are not-so-great, and they all have their quirks. The Benuo iPad Pro 10.5” Case isn’t an outlier to this, but it is a case that I got to try out that’s worth talking about.
Full Disclosure: I was sent this case to review for free, but this doesn’t change my opinions for this review.

Look and Feel

To start off, this case is a leather folio style case that feels great to the touch. I am not sure how genuine the leather is, but it just feels way more expensive than it actually is.

Conversely, the microfiber cloth that is inside the cover isn’t as luxurious, and honestly does very little to clean the glass when it is closed. But if you want a case that cleans your iPad even the Apple Smart Cover doesn’t do a good job at that.

The final type of material used in the making of this case is a very study, yet somehow soft, plastic that houses the iPad. Putting it in the case is just as easy as taking it out, which is great. Not many cases have this kind of plastic material to house a case that is as forgiving and gentle to the iPad, which is a shame. Benuo gets this right on the money and they do it without it being a flimsy case that barely holds the iPad in place. I hope more companies looking to make cases for things like the iPad look into this material as it seems to be the sweet spot between security and flexibility.

One thing you will notice right off the bat with the look of this case is that the width of the case is bigger than other folio cases for the 10.5” iPad. That is because it offers a built in Apple Pencil holder next to the iPad. Made of the same material housing the iPad. It offers a secure and forgiving way to keep your Apple Pencil with you all the time without being a hassle to get it out for use.

To add even more to the pencil holder, Benuo takes the free space on the side and made a hole to put your Apple Pencil in as if it were a quill in an ink bottle. If you are using this for drawing in landscape mode, this added feature is a really enjoyable experience. It keeps your Pencil from rolling off the desk and allows you to keep it out of sight when you want but available when you need it. Benuo really put together a great looking, and even better feeling, case that is both simple in design but functional at that. But that isn’t to say there aren’t issues in that department entirely.

Functionality

The number one thing I look for in cases is a functionality that doesn’t look to reinvent the wheel. I don’t mind when companies do this, just not with a product I am going to use every day.

With that said, Benuo doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel with this case. They merely offer some extra flair to a type of case as old as the tablet itself; but Benuo does miss the mark on some of the more fundamental features you are looking for in a folio case.

For instance, the case does say it offers a sleep/wake feature. This is usually done by magnets as that is what Apple uses to determine if the cover is over the screen or not, but these magnets couldn’t hold a paper clip if it needed to. They are such weak and cheap magnets that if I tip my iPad to the side the cover rolls open without much resistance to stay attached to the screen. The cover has no attachability to the iPad leaving it flacid and pitiful.

This is really noticeable when I try and roll it up to use as a stand. If I tilt or even barely bump the triangle made to stand up the tablet it unfurls dramatically. It took some time to learn how to carefully place this case down on a surface while rolled up to not disturb the delicate connections these magnets make to stay together.

I will say that once you have the case leaning on the cover it somehow offers support to keep the magnets together, but it is still a horrible experience. It is probably the most disappointing thing about this case entirely. Magnets for a sleep/wake feature is nothing new, and has been perfected for years now, so why does Benuo drop the ball so hard on this? My only guess is to keep costs down and allow for a better price point.

Finally, I am also not a huge fan of how they put together the flap to hold the body and the cover together. Because the Pencil case is on the inside of the iPad, the cloth connecting the body and the cover has to be inward more. Which in turn means the flap itself is much longer than the normal folio cases. It seems to be also double the size than most other cases like this I have seen.

This is problematic because I hold my iPad in portrait mode when reading articles and apps with my left hand. Because of this, and the extra long flap, I am stuck with a fist full of flap when holding the case open for reading. In a perfect world I would have liked Benuo to keep the pencil where it is but offer a much better solution the to connection of the body and cover that didn’t result in an awkward experience when trying to hold it for reading purposes. I don’t personally know what the practical solution is, but I think between this and the poor magnets it is a hard sell to customers that use their iPad in many different positions day to day.

Conclusion

The Benuo case is very nice to look at and touch, but functionally it drops the ball on some very basic stuff. I think the company is on the right track from a design perspective, but they need to improve their quality for function, even if that means a slightly higher price point.

This review isn’t all bad though, I will be using it for those times where I am going to a family event and I need something to entertain me. It offers a place on my shelf, just not a daily case. but my uses aren’t that of the normal user.

I hope in the future Benuo keeps their design and materials as they were great to use. I also hope they spend more time on the fundamentals of the case and fix the issues with the magnets and hopefully find a better solution of the hinge keeping the cover and body connected.

If you want to give this case a try, and I recommend you do so even after my issues with it, you are going to have to wait for stock to come back in. the price I saw last I checked as $22.99 on Amazon. If you need an occasional folio case this isn’t a bad option to work with or watch videos on.

If you have any questions or want to let me know what you think you can find me on Twitter @iamJeffPerry. Thanks for reading!

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